The Jewish mayor of Hertsmere is suing two local councillors who accused him of using “homophobic language”.
Rabbi councillor Alan Plancey is taking legal action against Christian Gray and Chris Myers after they opposed his appointment as mayor, calling him “prejudiced”.
The two Hertsmere councillors, who have set up a crowdfunding page to cover legal costs, cited comments made by Plancey in an interview with Jewish News in 2014, in which he urges the LGBT community to be “quieter”.
In an open letter on 17 November, the Hertsmere Labour group cite a young gay constituent who contacted Gray and Myers in “distress”, claiming the interview “explicitly enters the territory of homophobic statements.”
A Hertsmere Labour spokesperson told Jewish News: “Following Mayor Plancey’s threat of legal action for defamation against our two gay Labour councillors, we felt that funds were needed to contest the action.
“We are so very grateful to the people who have supported our councillors and are thrilled that £2,000 in the first 24 hours. The mayor must not go unchallenged.”
Jeremy Newmark, an orthodox Jewish councillor who is keader of the Labour Group on Hertsmere Council, said: “I believe there is no place for homophobic language in public life. I believe it was entirely legitimate for Councillors to ask the Mayor to clarify his views before he was elected. I firmly believe it is still not too late for him to do so.”
Last week Plancey was confronted about his 2014 comments on the BBC’s Three Counties Radio. He told listeners: “I wasn’t giving my views. I was asked to explain the Orthodox view on LGBTQ. Nobody can turn round and say to me I’m homophobic. I’m not.”
Plancey added his views wee “against the act not the individual”.
Oliver Kasin and Ella Rose, LGBT Labour London co-chairs, said there are “no excuses for homophobic language”, and called on Plancey to “retract his remarks” and “sincerely apologise”.
Defending Plancey, leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, Cllr Morris Bright, said: “The Conservative group were very clear that he should not feel coerced in to stepping back.”
Cllr Rabbi Plancey has been approached for comment.
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